Have you ever initiated a difficult conversation only to realize after it is finished that you didn’t fully talk about the issue that you went there to discuss in the first place?
Funny how that can happen…but not so funny how you may have felt afterwards.
Confused, rejected and even diminished since you initiated the discussion to talk about something that was important to you. But you got easily swayed into talking about things that were important to the other person.
Effective Communicators understand the importance of making sure they have a voice in the discussion so their needs and goals are being met and is the topic of Part 2 as I continue the series: Communication Road Block series. If you missed Part 1 – Here is the link: Communication Road Blocks
So, how do you ensure your needs and goals are being met?
Before anything else, you need to take the time to analyze what those needs and goals are in the conversation.
Too often we go into conversations “winging it” and don’t have a clear focus of what we want to achieve and why it’s important to us. This is why so many of our conversations can feel like we are driving down a road with a ton of twists and turns. The fact that we are unprepared allows us to take our eyes of the Communication “road”.
Instead, start with making a Communication Plan.
After fully analyzing the purpose of the discussion and what you need to see happen as a result of the discussion then Identify your external and internal needs that are to be met.
i.e. : I need to feel confident (internal) and I need to make sure the other person understands my perspective (external) List as many internal and external needs as you can identify and then;
List what the goals are from having that conversation. i.e. I want to be able to work well with this person or I have some deadlines that need to be met and I want to make sure this person understands the impact it has on the team if they are not met.
Analyze what allows you to get off track during difficult conversations.
Perhaps as soon as someone becomes assertive, you back down and then the conversation goes in the direction that the other person wants.
You realize that if too many items get brought up during the discussion, you find it hard to keep up and track which creates a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Once you have identified all the ways in which you allow ourself to be taken off track of what you need to discuss, then you are ready for the final and most important step.
With your conversation needs and goals written out in front of you along with how you get sidetracked (or yes, even railroaded), determine what will help you recognize faster that the conversation is going off topic. i.e. When I recognize that I am feeling overwhelmed or confused, that tells me that the conversation isn’t staying on the topic that I want to discuss.
Then, devise a plan of what you are going to say to get back onto the topic. i.e. I will suggest that we write down our specific issues/needs/wants etc. as a method to make sure we address them all. Also, while we are doing this, we can identify where each of our issues/needs/wants are the same.
Plan your discussions and don’t wing it – by doing this you gain more confidence and clarity about the specifics of what needs to be discussed and in the process, your communication skills will quickly develop.
If you are forced into a conversation that you haven’t had time to prepare for, simply say to the other person “Look, I see that there are some issues that are really important to you. What I would like to do is give each of us some time to think about the issues and let’s agree right now to a date and time to talk about them”.
Saying that is a simple as 1, 2, 3
If you would like more tips to help increase your communication skills while at the same time handle difficult conversations click on the link and get this Workplace Harmony Report. where you get strategies, tools and tactics to gain confidence in managing conflict and becoming an effective communicator.